No, you weren't dreaming -- last night's surprising events did happen and Spider-Man is joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After thirteen years and five films, the wall-crawler's association with Sony Pictures has been given a marvelous upgrade. Now Sony will share Spider-Man with Marvel Studios in a collaborative deal that will allow Peter Parker to potentially stand side-by-side with Iron Man while also allowing Sony to maintain creative control of the character.
This move comes as a huge get for Marvel Studios, who have had to build their shared universe from scratch into a juggernaut without having access to arguably their most iconic character. The deal also helps out Sony Pictures, who have seemed a bit scattershot regarding the direction of their Spider-Man franchise following "Amazing Spider-Man 2's" disappointing box office performance. This deal has been a long time in the making, and now it's finally official. Spider-Man is slated to appear in one MCU film prior to receiving his own Marvel feature film in the summer of 2017.
All of these developments have been playing out for a while. Now that we know that Spider-Man will soon be swinging past Stark Tower, you can check out the articles and reveals that led us to where we are now.
- July 23, 2014: Sony Sets "Sinister Six" for 2016, Pushes "Amazing Spider-Man 3" to 2018: The first warning signs for Sony's Spider-Man plans arrived when the studio pushed back "Amazing Spider-Man 3" from a 2016 release date to 2018 after the less-than-desirable performance of "Amazing Spider-Man 2."
- August 4, 2014: Sony Reportedly Planning Female-Led Marvel Superhero Movie for 2017: After setting "Sinister Six" up with a 2016 release date, reports started to surface indicating that Sony wanted to make more films not focusing on their troubled Spider-Man -- including one with a female lead.
- October 8, 2014: RUMOR: Sony, Marvel In "Delicate" Early Talks To Share Spider-Man: The first rumblings of a deal emerged when unnamed sources from both Sony and Marvel revealed that the studios were in early and tentative talks to share the character.
- October 8, 2014: Sony's "Sinister Six" May Feature A New Spider-Man: Along with the first rumors of a Marvel/Sony team-up came the first mention of an all-new actor possibly suiting up as Spider-Man. This rumor indicated that "Sinister Six" may be used as a vehicle to introduce a new Spidey and give the frustrated franchise a soft reboot.
- October 31, 2014: Spider-Spinoff May Star Female Team: The rumors about any movie not starring Spider-Man continued to build as the aforementioned female lead movie turned into a female team-up movie.
- November 11, 2014: Sony Possibly Eyeing Aunt May Film: Rumors surrounding Sony's desperation to make a movie -- any movie -- not starring Spider-Man reached a new height when it was reported that the studio was considering a young Aunt May spinoff. Sony eventually denied this rumor.
- December 10, 2014: Marvel, Sony Discussed Spider-Man's "Captain America: Civil War" Involvement : The truth behind the rumors became revealed via e-mails leaked thanks to the infamous Sony Pictures hack. The e-mails revealed that talks regarding sharing Spider-Man had taken place with Sony Pictures Co-Chairman Amy Pascal proposing that Marvel produce a new Spidey trilogy with Sony retaining "creative control, marketing and distribution." Sounds familiar, doesn't it? The e-mails indicated that talks had broken down, though, with Sony higher-ups planning a January "Spidey summit" to discuss options.
- December 12, 2014: What the Sony E-mail Hacks Have Revealed About "Spider-Man's" Film Future: Following a number of e-mail leaks, we rounded up all the info made available regarding where Sony stood with Spidey's franchise. The revelations included the news that Marvel didn't want Andrew Garfield in the suit in future installments and that "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" directors Joe and Anthony Russo had expressed interest in producing future Spider-Man films.
- December 19, 2014: Marvel Wanted Spider-Man In "Avengers: Infinity War": Another leaked e-mail detailed what Spidey's potential involvement in "Captain America: Civil War" would have -- and possibly could -- look like. Additionally, Marvel wanted Spider-Man in both parts of "Infinity War."
- January 14, 2015: Sony Denies Spider-Man/"Avengers: Infinity War" Rumor: After all the dust settled from the e-mail storm kicked up by the Sony hack, the studio formally denied everything revealed by calling everything "old rumors" with "no validity whatsoever."
- February 9, 2015: Marvel Studios and Sony to Share Spider-Man in New Collaborative Deal: Months after the first rumors began circulating, Marvel finally announced their official deal with Sony Pictures to integrate Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe while also allowing Sony to retain final creative control over the character and finance, distribute and own the wall-crawler's solo films.
The first Spider-Man solo film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe will swing into theaters on July 28, 2017.